SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Scripps Health plans to place temporary restrictions on visitors to its five hospitals in San Diego County beginning Monday in order to keep the flu from spreading to patients and staff.
Under the guidelines taking effect at 8 a.m., all visitors will be screened, and those displaying flu-like symptoms will be asked to leave, according to Scripps Health.
The restrictions will be in place at Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego, Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista, Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas and Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla.
"With the number of influenza cases rising quickly in the area, we are taking precautionary measures to limit the risk of infection in our hospitals," said Dr. James LaBelle, chief medical officer at Scripps. "We ask that visitors follow these new guidelines so that we can maintain the safest possible environment for everyone."
The county Health and Human Services Agency last week reported the first two fatalities of this year's flu season, women in their 80s who lived at a nursing home and had underlying medical conditions. The rate of confirmed influenza cases is running nearly double that of last year, when 70 people died locally of flu-related causes.
Among other restrictions at Scripps facilities, patients will be limited to four visitors per day, and children under 15 will not be allowed entry unless they are patients receiving treatment or have an appointment -- and that includes lobbies, dining facilities and common areas.
Exceptions may be allowed by infection control and department supervisors for special circumstances, according to Scripps Health.
The healthcare provider said people should get a flu shot but if they get sick, stay home. People with flu-like symptoms should not go to hospital emergency rooms -- unless they have serious health issues like trouble breathing or shortness of breath, chest or abdominal pain or pressure, sudden
dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, or flu symptoms that improve but then return with fever and a worse cough.